from DANIEL JONES in Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe
VICTORIA FALLS – DEFIANT of the devastating effects of the coronavirus, players in Zimbabwe’s tourism sector have invested over US$100 million in new facilities over the past year.
The investment indicates overwhelming confidence in the sector overcoming the setbacks posed by the pandemic and years of bad publicity suffered by the country.
Nqobizitha Mangaliso Ndlovu, Environment, Climate, Tourism and Hospitality Industry Minister, said despite the devastating effect of COVID-19, the pandemic presented tourism with a great opportunity to become innovative and offered exceptional experience in the so-called new normal.
He was officiating at a recent 2021 Hospitality Association of Zimbabwe (HAZ) congress.
“The industry (tourism) is being challenged to remain vigilant and move away from the business as usual concept and be tactful in these difficult times if we are to achieve our common goal,” Ndlovu said.
“What is encouraging is that even though there is a marked decrease in tourist arrivals, the sector has registered a noble increase in the investments particularly in hotel accommodation,” he said.
Ndlovu stated numerous facilities were currently under development and a number of refurbishments ongoing during the challenging times.
“Our assessment is that during the year to date, over $100 million has been invested in new tourism facilities,” he said.
Buoyed by the progress, Ndlovu urged industry players to continue to work hard towards a projected $5 billion tourism economy by 2025.
He said the travel and tourism sector was slowly recovering from effects of the novel coronavirus which forced closure of industries in some instances.
Globally, international tourist arrivals dropped by 65 percent from January to May this year.
Arrivals into Africa during the same period fell by 81 percent while arrivals into Zimbabwe fell by 72 percent in the first half of the year.
Ndlovu commended the tourism industry for taking a proactive stance in embracing COVID-19 vaccination, with key resorts such as Victoria Falls taking the lead in reaching herd immunity in the region.
Zimbabwe has been endorsed as a must-visit destination post-COVID-19, riding on successful vaccination exercise.
“Faced with this scenario the industry has to be resilient and more creative to win the trust of tourists still fearful to travel and do more to deliver utmost care to health and hygiene standards and higher levels of customer care,” Ndlovu said.
– CAJ News